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Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997, 2003 by Michael R. Roussin
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Kombucha Papers and Reports
From the U.S. Government - FDA and CDC
The CDC Report in MMWR and the FDA News Release are the actual U.S. Government warnings and findings on their analyses of the Kombucha ferment. The next two analysis links for the yeast and the bacteria contain images of documents produced by the FDA and the CDC under the Freedom of Information Act. In accordance with our request, the U.S. Government provided copies of all analyses, chromatograms, lab reports, reports of methodologies, hand written notes, and internal memorandums concerning their investigation of the Kombucha ferment. The two FOIA analysis links will show you images of the FDA and CDC findings. Because these are images, they are quite large, ranging in size from 25k to 135k. If you're curious and want to look, that's why they're here, but if you just want to know their findings, I'll tell you and save you the download time. In their analysis of yeasts they found Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida valida and in their analysis of bacteria they found Pichia fermentans and Candida lambia. Both laboratories analyzed samples from the same ferment. It is interesting to note that they found no common yeast, but it also points out the difficulty in isolating microorganisms. Research of this type is laborious and very expensive.
In the documents produced by the FDA and the CDC, there is nothing that would indicate that they ever tried to isolate pathogenic bacteria or molds! More importantly, they NEVER analyzed the ferment from the Iowa woman that died! The Kombucha that was analyzed by the government was from samples they had received in December 1994. The Iowa woman died (according to the MMWR) on April 3, 1995. The last analyses of Kombucha by the FDA or CDC was completed in March 1995 from a confirmation sample received in Minnesota in February 1995. Both the Washington DC office and the Minneapolis, Minnesota office have confirmed that these images posted here represent the only Kombucha analysis that the government has conducted.
They looked through a microscope and saw yeast (bacteria are much smaller and molds have a distinctive matrix), so yeast are all they isolated. The rest of their information relies on articles written by others, none of whom have actually conducted any bacteriological analyses of their own. In short, the government not only did not find any causal relationship between the Iowa woman's death and Kombucha, THEY NEVER EVEN LOOKED AT HER FERMENT!
Could they have ignored her ferments because the autopsy revealed she died of peritonitis from a perforated bowel? I don't know, and they're not saying. There is nothing in the findings of the CDC or FDA that could have caused the death of the Iowa woman, and their reported findings should have been that blunt. In speaking with John Gecan at the FDA, he stated that there was no funding for analysis of Kombucha, since "it's not like people are dropping over dead from this stuff". He is quick to add that the Iowa woman did die, and she was a Kombucha drinker. He is also quick to add that there are some other possible heath risks, but he can't be specific, other than possible toxic mold contaminations. He references some problems in Arizona, but he has no information about them. He openly admits that he would not want to say anything that implies consuming Kombucha is okay, because of personal liability. Anyway, you are welcome to peruse the U.S. Government's work and reporting on the topic of Kombucha.
The following links will open a new page in your browser. If you are using a dial-up connection and you get tired of waiting for image downloads on the FDA lab reports, you can simply close that browser window and return to this page.
CDC Report in MMWR - December 8, 1995
FDA News Release - March 23, 1995
FDA and CDC Analysis of Yeast Obtained through the Freedom of Information Act
FDA and CDC Analysis of Bacteria Obtained through the Freedom of Information Act
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